Providing Veterans with the Care They Deserve

At the VNA, we recognize that our nation’s Veterans deserve our appreciation because of their selflessness. And as a nation, this is recognized by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) which in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) launched the We Honor Veterans Program. This program focuses on “respectful inquiry, compassionate listening and grateful acknowledgement.”The goal of this amazing program is to help Veterans peacefully move through their end-of-life journey by providing educational tools and resources to those providing hospice services to the brave men and women who have served our country.

The four goals of this program are to promote Veteran focused educational activities, increase an organization’s capacity to serve Veteran patients, support the development of strategic partnerships within the community, and to increase access to care for Veterans and improve the quality of that care. The We Honor Veterans Program aims to help hospice providers understand the unique needs of Veterans to ensure they receive the care they need and deserve.

The VNA is a proud Level 3 Partner in We Honor Veterans. To obtain that Level 3 status, the VNA provides Veteran-centric education to staff and volunteers, seeks to identify patients with military experience, continues to build organizational capacity to provide care for Veterans, and develops relationships with other Veteran organizations. Some of the ways that the VNA shows Veterans our appreciation, in conjunction with our staff and Volunteer Services Department, is:

      • Conduct a pinning ceremony to Veterans on hospice service, with a VNA volunteer or staff service member presenting the pin and a certificate to the patient.
      • Present a handmade red, white and blue blanket to Veterans on hospice service, made by VNA volunteers.
      • Provide Veterans staying in the Hospice House with a red, white and blue plaque noting their Veteran status on the door to their room.
      • Participate in community-wide events and initiatives supporting our Veterans.
      • Plan and execute Veterans Day ceremonies at assisted living, skilled nursing and rehabilitation facilities with pinning ceremonies, patriotic music and a celebratory reception.
      • Pair volunteers who served in the military with Veterans on hospice service with our Veterans-to-Veterans Program, providing assistance to help these patients stay in the comfort of their homes longer.

We strive to give our Veterans the best care because they sacrificed so much for us. The VNA is committed to ensuring our local Veterans have their unique needs met when we provide services to them. As we strive to become a Level 4 Partner in We Honor Veterans, the VNA hopes to expand our community collaborations with other Veteran organizations, creating a safety net of resources Veterans can rely on for access to the highest quality care.

To learn more about We Honor Veterans, visit:

If you would like to help support We Honor Veterans at the VNA, you can donate today to help purchase supplies for Veterans projects at:

For more information about the VNA’s We Honor Veterans Program, please contact us at (772) 567-5551.









Clinical worker standing outside front entrance to Hospice House with male patient in wheelchair and his spouse.Programs

Respite Care, Care for the Caregiver

For patients who receive in-home hospice care, it’s often family members who become the patients’ primary caregiver. The end-of-life journey can be physically, emotionally and mentally exhausting. Even though caregivers receive support from VNA Hospice clinicians, they can still easily become overwhelmed, making it difficult for them to not only care for their loved ones, but for themselves as well.

The VNA Hospice Respite Care Program can help those primary caregivers by having the hospice patient stay at the VNA Hospice House. The Medicare benefit allows for up to five days each month in respite care, covering transportation and a five day stay in the Hospice House. This break for the primary caregiver gives them the opportunity to recharge and rest, resulting in less caregiver burnout and more energy to devote to their loved ones.

It’s vitally important that caregivers understand they have resources like this to help them during such a difficult process. And they can rest easy because a respite stay at the Hospice House means that their loved ones will be well cared for 24/7 in a homelike environment. The spacious 12,000 square-foot building has 12 private patient rooms with attached baths, which are beautifully appointed to feel like a home and not a hospital room. The Hospice House also has state-of-the-art technology, an in-house chef, and other amenities that patients and families can enjoy in a cozy, inviting environment.

When a patient is on respite care in the VNA Hospice House, they are comfortably cared for by VNA staff while their primary caregiver can take the time they need to rest, travel, and get things done that they otherwise couldn’t when caring for the patient. Respite care is about providing round-the-clock care the patient needs, while the primary caregiver can take the time to care for themselves.

The Hospice House is a vital community resource completely funded by our donors. The VNA would not be able to provide respite care without your philanthropic support. If you would like more information on the VNA Hospice Respite Care Program or how you can support the VNA Hospice House, please visit or call (772) 567-5551.

Board Member Spotlight

William Hudson

Bill is the founder and principal of Hudson Advisor Services, Inc and was formerly executive vice president of the Investment Services Division of Marine Midland Bank (HSBC Bank, USA), with responsibility for estate, trust and investment management services.

Locally, Bill is the treasurer and on the board of the Humane Society of Vero Beach and Indian River County Foundation. He has also served as a trustee of the Nichols School and chaired their Endowment Committee, a trustee of the Park School, board member of the New York Community Trust and trustee of the Buffalo State College Foundation.

He holds a BA degree in banking and finance from the University of Florida and is a graduate of both the Investment Banking Institute and the National School of Bank Investments. He was a captain and helicopter pilot in the U.S. Army Medical Service Corps during the Vietnam War.


Using Music Therapy to Train the Brain

Music has an incredible effect on the brain. It can help us recall an old memory or decrease stress; it improves our communication and uplifts our mood. For patients suffering from brain injuries or cognitive disorders, music therapy can play a major role in their treatment and rehabilitation.

Nobody understands the benefits of music therapy more than Brandon Atkinson and his family. In 2016, Brandon suffered from brain damage, becoming non-vocal and losing many of his fine motor skills. While in the hospital in Jacksonville, it was music that solicited his first reaction.

“When Brandon was first injured, he was in a blank stare, and music therapy was the first thing that got an expression out of him,” recalls Brandon’s mother, Nancy.

After Brandon left the hospital and came home to live with his parents, they knew they had to integrate music therapy into his recovery. Luckily, they could to turn to the VNA for help. The VNA is the only local organization that employs board-certified music therapists. In addition to music therapy, Brandon also receives occupational and speech therapy weekly to aid in his rehabilitation.

“Through the music he is able to do therapies such as occupational therapies, but he doesn’t feel he is working. He doesn’t even know he is working, he thinks it is fun,” says Nancy.

Brandon has been working with music therapist manager, Moreen Burkart, MT-BC, for many years, and he has made much progress in his daily life. Currently, Moreen uses interventions to help Brandon with his impulse control, concentration and improve his fine motor skills. Using a combination of tools, music and technology, Brandon applies the skills he learns with Moreen outside of their sessions. Nancy highlights that they have adapted one of the songs Moreen uses that helps with his concentration to assist Brandon with other daily chores and tasks like cleaning or brushing his teeth. “When we do the song, he does much better. The song makes him focus,” she states.

The need for music therapy continues to grow in our community. Recently, the program expanded its scope of care and serves more home health patients than ever before. Music therapy gives patients like Brandon hope, and continuing these services will be transformational for future patients.

The VNA Music Therapy Program is funded by the VNA & Hospice Foundation.

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